Legacy of a Vocation

by Dwight Kimberly

As I near my retirement date in the summer of 2011, I am asking the question, “What is my legacy in higher education, especially within Christian higher ed?” I have given approximately 13,000 lectures, served on my share of committees, planned and implemented too many science labs, and tried to be an ambassador for the discipline of science – both within the secular world and the church. I have graded thousands of papers and tests, published some science papers, and have done my best to motivate students. It seems none of these achievements have laid the groundwork for burial in Westminster Abbey or a crypt next to George Fox in Bunhill Fields Cemetery, England.

As I reflect on my student days at George Fox College from 1963 to 1967, I realize I remember very little about the hundreds of lectures I heard or the three or four chapels per week we had. I do remember people! I remember Milo Ross (president) and his pastoral care of the institution; Elver Voth’s (biologist) and Arthur Roberts’ (philosopher) demand for excellence in the classroom; Ward Haines’ volunteer work at weeding the campus; George Moore (academic dean), who placed students before bureaucracy; and scores of excellent friends I made – including my wife of 44 years. How can one place value on friends?

It seems my legacy will be carried in the hearts of the students who have stopped me in the halls and said, “Do you have a minute?” I have found these moments to be “holy,” and often a very important conversation follows. There are no “throw away conversations” in life. One negative comment to a student will color the rest of their life. Likewise, a positive note of encouragement can change the direction of a student. Legacies are built one conversation at a time. I hope my ministry has been a catalyst for students to find God’s call for their lives. If so, all of the late-night grading was worth it.